How does gender influence immigrant and refugee women's postpartum depression help-seeking experiences?

J M O'Mahony, T T Donnelly
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 2013, 20 (8): 714-25
The number of migrants arriving in Canada from non-European countries has grown significantly over the past three decades. How best to assist these escalating numbers of immigrant and refugee women to adapt to their new environment and to cope with postpartum depression (PPD) is a pressing issue for healthcare providers. Evidence has shown that immigrant and refugee women experience difficulties in accessing care and treatment for PPD. This qualitative study was conducted with 30 immigrant and refugee women using in-depth interviews to obtain information about the women's PPD experiences. The primary aim was to explore how cultural, social, political, historical and economic factors intersect with race, gender and class to influence the ways in which immigrant and refugee women seek help to manage PPD. Results reveal that immigrant and refugee women experience many complex gender-related challenges and facilitators in seeking equitable help for PPD treatment and prevention. We will demonstrate that (a) structural barriers and gender roles hinder women's ability to access necessary mental healthcare services and (b) insecure immigration status coupled with emotional and economic dependence may leave women vulnerable and disadvantaged in protecting themselves against PPD.

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